On the 40th anniversary of the coup the Greek colonels engineered and the military occupation of the north of the island by the Turkish armed forces, three organisations from Cyprus, Turkey and Greece published a joint statement to condemn the military occupation and declare their resolve to fight for the self-determination of Cyprus.
40 years is enough! End immediately the Turkish military occupation of Cyprus!
Close down the British military bases!
Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot, unite and fight!
For a united socialist Cyprus!
Kick the EU out! For the Socialist United States of Europe!
40 years of military occupation in response to a coup that lasted a mere eight days! This 20 July is the 40th anniversary of the so-called “Operation Attila” that the Turkish armed forces carried out against the independent and united Republic of Cyprus, established in 1960 and under which Greek and Turkish Cypriots lived together. Turkey then went on to stage an ethnic cleansing operation, including massacres so as to terrorise the civilian population, through which the Greek Cypriot population hitherto living in the northern zone that had now come under Turkish military occupation was driven to the South, whereas Turkish Cypriots living in other parts of the island were amassed in the North. This created a de facto division of the island into two.
The immediate excuse for all this was a coup d’etat engineered by the so-called “Colonels’ junta” that had been in power in Greece since 1967 and that had been shaken by what has gone down into history as the Polytechnic uprising, starting on 17 November 1973. The suicidal gamble on Cyprus was the last straw that broke the camel’s back and the Colonels’ junta came down soon after the coup. The coup itself, which had removed the elected head of state of the Republic of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios, was extremely short-lived. It was over in a matter of days. But the Turkish military occupation and the de facto division of the island has continued for 40 long years!
This division was sealed when the Turkish junta of the early 1980s created a puppet state, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in 1983, the semblance of a state whose armed forces are under Turkish command, whose politics is controlled, brutally explicitly in times of crisis, by the Turkish ambassador, and whose economy has been destroyed by Turkey so that the Turkish Cypriot community can be held hostage to the purse of the Turkish government, This is a state, moreover, that none other government in the world has granted diplomatic recognition to, thirty odd years after its foundation! The TRNC is clearly a colonial possession that Turkey manipulates at will in order to promote its own economic, diplomatic and military interests in the Eastern Mediterranean region, in the Middle East and in Europe.
The 2nd Euro-Mediterranean Conference of 29-30 March 2014 that brought together 21 revolutionary organisations as well as militants in a personal capacity from 16 countries in Athens, Greece, unanimously accorded to give our three organisations the duty of making a declaration on the question of Cyprus. We take this opportunity of the 40th anniversary of the Turkish military occupation of the north of the island to put forth the views of revolutionary internationalists on this question.
We call clearly and unequivocally for the end of this military occupation and immediate withdrawal of troops. Nevertheless, we also submit that, however abominable it may be, the Turkish military occupation of Northern Cyprus is not the sole problem, nor even the crux of the matter. The heart of the problem lies elsewhere, in the machinations of British imperialism and behind it US imperialism to hold on to the real trophy that the century-long possession of Cyprus as a colony (1878-1960) gave it, the military bases on the island in Akrotiri and Dikelia. This is an island where the national question has been a burning issue for half a century because resorting to the divide and rule policies it has always been so skilful at and pitting Turk against Greek, British imperialism has divided, since the 1940s and the 50s, the Cypriot people, manipulating the situation in order to guard jealously its military bases on the island, making the island into the legendary “floating aircraft carrier”.
As recently as December 2011 the importance of the British bases on the island was reasserted by none other than the then British Minister of Defence Philip Hammond. This is verbatim how Reuters reports the minister’s statement:
Speaking before the House of Commons, Hammonds said that a study has been completed on the British Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus, as a part of a review about the Strategic Defence and Security. According to the Defence Secretary, “the Government accepts its recommendations and confirms Her Majesty`s Government`s enduring commitment to the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus”. “The Sovereign Base areas are in a region of geo-political importance and high priority for the United Kingdom`s long term national security interests”, he further said. Hammonds underlined that the Sovereign Base Areas provide an adaptable and capable forward mounting base, the utility of which has been amply demonstrated. He gave further examples on that, including the basing of RAF aircraft that participated in operations over Libya, the regular deployment of Cyprus-based military personnel to Afghanistan and the key role played as a logistic hub for operations in Afghanistan (emphasis added).
This is precisely what the “Cyprus question” is! It is a question created by imperialism and reinforced by the foreign policy of the two states involved, Greece and Turkey, at the back of the Cypriot people. The three states of Britain, Turkey, and Greece, are very ironically the “guarantors” of the future peace and stability of the Republic of Cyprus, while in reality they are the source of the problem!
That is why a solution cannot be expected from the United Nations (UN), an organization of brigands controlled, first and foremost, by the United States (US) and its allies. The US, it should be noted, has surveillance facilities on the island. The Annan Plan of a decade ago was no solution. Neither is the present wave of negotiations under UN aegis. This new initiative is but the expression of two new developments. On the one hand, the financial and economic crisis the Republic of Cyprus suffered in March 2013 made the competition between the EU and the Russian oligarchs over southern Cyprus acutely felt. This competition between the two sides has become an open struggle and the new set of negotiations aims to solve that conflict in favour of the EU-US-NATO bloc.
On the other hand, the off-shore natural gas reserves that have been discovered near the south has whetted the appetite of the Turkish state, a large importer of and transit hub for energy sources. The transportation of the gas via a submarine pipeline to Turkey and from there to Europe is the least expensive method of exploiting this newly-found resource. To this must be added a similar discovery of natural gas off the shores of Israel. Turkish energy companies, which have already become very active on the market of the Kurdish Regional Government territory north of Iraq, have set their eyes on the economic boon that both discoveries promise. One, Turcas, has already engaged in negotiations with Israel on investment for the transportation of Israeli gas to Turkey. A certain US citizen called Matthew Bryza is now on the Board of directors of this company. This person simply coincidentally happens to be a former US Deputy Secretary of State for Europe and Asia! So the negotiations on Cyprus are really cooking elsewhere than the formal diplomatic talks being carried on between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides through the intermediation of the UN. Very high dignitaries of the US, including vice-president Joseph Biden, and of the EU have lately visited the island. It is yet to be seen whether, as Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan has already threatened, the barbaric Israeli assault on Gaza will turn around the process of normalisation that is going on between Israel and Turkey, which would probably have its repercussions on the Cyprus talks. Irrespective of the outcome, though, the present talks have more the character of a business deal than an entente between two peoples in conflict!
On the other hand, despite all the hopes invested in it by such large sections of the Cypriot left, the European Union (EU) cannot provide a lasting solution to the problem that would serve the interests of the working people of the island. The EU benefits from the British bases on the island. Libya was, primarily, the EU’s war! And the British military bases on the island were used intensely in that war! Thus, Cyprus was a beachhead for the imperialist onslaught on the Arab peoples. And, reciprocally, the people of Cyprus, Greek and Turk, will be under threat of retaliation in any future operations of this type. Whoever wishes to solve the Cyprus question should be aware that it is only through kicking the British bases out that the Cypriot people can be safe from the threat of wars which are in no way their making!
Not only is the EU not the solution, it is in fact part of the problem for the Cypriot working class and poor. It was only last March that the infamous Troika, consisting of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF, attacked the economic rights and positions of the Cypriot working people in an attempt to partially load the burden of the banking crisis the island was going through. The Cypriot working class and the poor reacted so forcefully that the plan had to be partially withdrawn. But even then it is clear that the EU acts, as it has acted previously in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy, as an agent of social cannibalism that eats away the meagre gains of the working classes.
No, the solution to the Cypriot question lies, first and foremost, with the Cypriot people, Greek and Turk. This is an island possessing solid trade-union organisations historically and a left-wing tradition and culture within the working class. It is high time for Greek and Turkish Cypriots to realise that all the suffering they have gone through is the making of bourgeois states, be it imperialist US, Britain or the EU or the more peripheral Greece or Turkey. It is now these very imperialist states which, in the name of the interests of the European bourgeoisie, of its “competitiveness”, of its “economy”, are plundering the meagre economies of the workers and pensioners, reducing their wages to a pittance, taking away their jobs, and leaving them without social services!
On this very island where imperialist capitalism has provoked and still provokes nationalities to ceaselessly fight each other, let us create an internationalist front of the working class and of the youth to fight not each other but the capitalist brigands! Let us build an exemplary united front between Greek and Turk to fight to make the capitalists pay for the crisis rather than the workers and the poor! It is not only in the Greek South of Cyprus that the crisis is taking its toll on the workers. The heroic struggle of the workers of the Nicosia municipality in the Turkish North in 2013 has at times taken confrontational forms. Only two years ago, a gigantic mass movement of the working class shook the Northern establishment. The crisis of capitalism is objectively uniting the Cypriot working class. Let us rise to this historic challenge and subjectively respond to the needs of the moment by building a united front between the forces of the working class in the North and the South!
The allies of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot workers are not the “guarantors”! They are the workers and labourers of other countries of the Mediterranean basin, both in Europe and in the Arab world, where only recently popular revolutions and uprisings were raging. We call on the Cypriot working class to take up the challenge and solve the problems facing the country through its independent politics.
There is no good to come to the Cypriot people from the EU. As elsewhere in Europe, the people have to create another union of the peoples of the Old Continent, bringing down the agonising imperialist EU and setting up in its stead the United Socialist States of Europe.
Workers of all nationalities of Cyprus! Unite and fight! You have nothing to lose and a reunified country and a decent future for your children to win!
On behalf of the 2nd Euro-Mediterranean Conference:
DIP (Revolutionary Workers Party), Turkey
EEK (Workers Revolutionary Party), Greece
The collective Neos Anthropos-Yeni İnsan (New Human), Cyprus
20 July 2014